Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Next Generation 3x6 "Booby Trap"


Geordi La Forge had the unfortunate task of following in the footsteps of a miracle-worker.  When he finally became chief engineer of the Enterprise, La Forge could only be compared to Scotty, who made keeping starships together seem like the biggest emergencies that could only be solved by his quick wits and dedication.  What could La Forge possibly offer in response?

Well, for starters he would always be one of the most visually unique characters in Star Trek.  For some reason Next Generation was full of that.  The bald captain.  The gold android.  The dude with the ridged forehead.  And then there was Geordi, who wore a banana clip over his eyes, giving the blind man the ability to see.  It wasn't until the last three movies that he finally lost his distinctive VISOR, but moreso than being chief engineer, it was this element that made La Forge stand out.

Eventually he formed a tight friendship with Data, but La Forge was better known for his unusual alienation.  It's not that he was a loner, but that his physical handicap, no matter how expertly it was eventually corrected, made La Forge less comfortable with other people than is usual for Star Trek.  The area where this was most obvious, and the episode that makes it stand out the most, was Geordi's relationship with women, as defined by "Booby Trap."

Unlike Scotty, La Forge was a more hands-on engineer.  He helped make it seem more down-to-earth.  Yet he couldn't work miracles.  He needed help.  So he turns to a holographic representation of a brilliant Starfleet engineer, and falls in love with it.  He certainly believes that it's the engineer herself, but it's really the version of her that he's helped create.  It's not quite Reg Barclay, but it's Geordi La Forge in a nutshell.  He's the guy who loves people and technology, but perhaps best when they're in the same form.  He and Data were the original platonic bromance, after all.

Most of the story is pretty generic Star Trek, coming across a derelict ship with a problem our crew must figure out.  It's how the characters, especially La Forge, are brought to their best instincts around it that distinguishes "Booby Trap."  It's another way of acknowledging that Next Generation is more cerebral than its predecessor, and that its characters have more depth.  On this occasion the beneficiary is La Forge.  Also worth noting are some key character tidbits for supporting characters Guinan and O'Brien.  It's funny, because each of these three characters have the elements of this episode revisited in some form or another.  Guinan talks about being saved by a "bald man" (referring to Picard, and to "Time's Arrow"), while O'Brien building ships in bottles is referenced amusingly in the final episode.  This whole episode is revisited for La Forge in "Galaxy's Child."  Little bits of continuity, probably, but still lightyears ahead of what the original series used to do.

franchise * series * essential * character

Notable guest-stars:
Susan Gibney
Colm Meaney
Whoopi Goldberg

Memory Alpha summary.


  1. This was one of the few characterizing epsidoes with Geordi, who never had success (non-virtual) women.


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